The University of Newcastle of Australia is preparing to welcome the second cohort of postgraduate students undertaking its graduate certificate in co-operatives management and organisation.
Due to resume in February, the online course is the only programme of its kind in Australia. It is aimed at those interested in pursuing a career in the member-owned sector. It focuses on the management of co-operative mutual and social enterprise business models.
The certificate comprises four online courses, offering flexibility to those studying part-time, and is open to international students as well.
Melina Morrison, chief executive of the Australian Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), said: “The BCCM is a member of the industry advisory group advising the course content and we championed the course from the outset to plug a gap in the lack of education on coops in Australia – a major recommendation of the 2015 senate inquiry into co-operatives.”
The first cohort ran in 2018. Graduate Matthew Wedmaier believes the course helped him to acquire specialised skills and experience required in his day-to-day work as head of finance at Credit Union Australia. He has previously worked for Bank of Queensland, Virgin Australia and Queensland Sugar.
“I genuinely believe [postgraduate study] widens skills and aptitude, and there is always something that I should know more about or haven’t considered,” he said in his testimony.
“The finance industry, like any other industry, is one that consistently evolves. Study has been the path I have used to ensure I am aware of where the industry is going, what best practice looks like and what the future may involve.
“Mutual entities are fundamentally different from for-profit entities and they are not normally included in most programs. The chance to study the graduate certificate in co-operatives management and organisation – a course directly relevant to mutuals – was very appealing.
“The ability to understand in greater depth the strengths, weaknesses and future developments of the mutual industry was invaluable and certainly helped my own thinking and understanding.”
In December the University of Newcastle will also host the first ICA research conference to be held in Australia.